Growing up, I used to sneak to my room with a massive pile of fashion magazines and hail the printed words and editorial photo shoots scrawled across the pages as religious texts. Within those pages, there was always a style guide for different body types: “How to Dress Your Pear-Shaped Body,” “Ten Ways to Style a Heart-Shaped Body,” and many other tidbits of arbitrary fashion rules sat before my young eyes.
There is, of course, such a thing as flattering clothing, but not in the way that these magazines and countless articles have ingrained in our minds. Truthfully, clothing does have an impact on how we are viewed, by others and ourselves. As a heavier-set woman, I constantly hear about “dressing for your body type” or “how to flatter your figure;” it’s one of the most backhanded forms of advice I could get. Throughout my life, I’ve realized that dressing to “flatter your figure” just means contorting your body to fit beauty standards through clothing. Fashion as a whole should not inherently cater to only one ideal vision.
But as style comes and goes, thin will always be in, and that’s the long and the short of it. I’ve had my fair share of drastic appearance changes and I can honestly say that the whole idea of dressing for your body type centers around the concept of fitting into the box that is the current (and fleeting) beauty standard. When I was thin, I was never advised to dress in a certain way to flatter anything, so why is it suddenly a huge issue now that my body has changed?
It doesn’t even end there, though. Skinniness is not and never has been the end-all-be-all of the beauty standard. Even thinness might not ever be enough. Nowadays, there are countless little things that all add up to having the “perfect body.” People bend over backward to achieve that hourglass figure with thin this and wide that. Heels to elongate your legs, corsets to slim your waist, and push-up bras to add a few cup sizes to your look: the list goes on and on.
Their advice has nothing to do with actually looking cohesively styled, or even looking your best: sometimes it simply has to do with looking like someone else. Whether that someone is Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, there’s always a standard to which women’s bodies are held, which is heavily reflected in their stylistic choices.
It’s time that we got rid of the outdated concept of dressing for your body type. Normalize wearing whatever the hell you want solely because it makes you feel good. I’m so sick and tired of unsolicited fashion advice from people who have stronger opinions on my body than I do. What do bodies really have to do with fashion other than the fact that your clothes adorn them? The short answer is nothing, so just have fun with it.
I’ve learned not to stress over a dress making me have the perfect hip-to-waist ratio; instead, I focus on dressing in fun, unique, and stylish ways that make me comfortable rather than focusing on what is palatable to the masses. I try not to get wrapped up in other people’s opinions on my body or stylistic decisions because, at the end of the day, I’m the one wearing it, and personal style is more about comfort and confidence than anything else.